For many people living in Miami, seeking to obtain legal residency in the United States, the chosen path is via a green card. Unfortunately, as we have discussed in previous posts, the length of time it takes to secure a green card is quite long. This means that in some situations where young people have sought to immigrate under green card applications submitted by their parents, upon turning 21, the children lost their priority date. Those individuals then needed to reapply for green cards independently which effectively sent them to the back of the line.
As you can imagine, many have taken issue with this process and the matter was taken to the courts to work through. Earlier this week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling on the matter. It determined that the aging out of children upon turning 21 by the United States Citizen and Immigration Services was not correct.
In support of its decision, it determined that the Child Status Protection Act that was passed in 2002 intended to assist young people in this situation. More specifically, the court found that the act "unambiguously grants automatic conversion and priority date retention to aged-out derivative beneficiaries."
As a result of the courts' 6-5 decision, the original green card application date for those who have turned 21 while waiting for their parent's application to be approved, will be used, not the much later date that came into being when they were forced to reapply.
Green cards are only one way in which a person from another country can seek legal residency in the U.S. Immigration attorneys can help identify other options for those interested.
Source: Fox News, "Green Card Applications Fast Tracked for Children," Sept.7, 2012